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Googleshng
09-26-2011, 02:25 AM
So this last month has been kind of a dry patch for me RPG-wise, with my saturday night game dying and my saturday afternoon and sunday night games being a bit spotty for various reasons. Clearly, I need to pile on another regular weekly thing here. We've got the whole Virtual Tabletop II thing going, which is great for fun non-committal experimentation, but sometimes you just want a long-running campaign, and the only group of people I know who have ever managed to really sustain that is my regular saturday afternoon group, and really none of them are willing to commit to anything much past our current commitment to Paizo's whole Adventure Path thing.

On that note, you know I really honestly do like Paizo's whole Adventure Path thing! I'd honestly like to check all of them out some time, but seeing as it took us 4.5 years to run through Shackled City, and we're still on chapter 2 of Kingmaker having started in January, it seems like they're producing them faster than this here group is going to get around to'em.

So yeah. Basically:
1- Are there enough crazy RPG starved people around to get some kind of serious regular commitment group of people together to run through one of these things, start to finish?
2- Would I be stuck GMing it?
3- Which?

Honestly, I wouldn't be entirely opposed to doing the whole GM thing if it could wait until I have less distractions and more money. Like, ideally once I have a new game on the market and am no longer spending all my spare time on this crazy Minecraft project. Which probably translates to early next year on both counts.

The Pathfinder flavored stuff of there's is conveniently listed here (http://paizo.com/pathfinder/adventurePath), but I wouldn't be opposed to playing one of their 3.5 ones (ideally converted to Pathfinder because hey, better rules, but either way). For that matter I wouldn't mind getting into a long-running campaign of pretty much any game at all, just tossing these out there because they seriously reduce the chance of GM burnout and are generally pretty #@$%ing well designed.

Blacklisted by me personally should someone actually be willing to jump on this idea and don the GM hat:
Shackled City - Played it already.
Kingmaker - Playing it.
Savage Tide - High on my Saturday group's what-to-play-next list.
Legacy of Fire - Ditto.
Jade Regent - Wasn't out when we had that vote.
Skulls & Shackles - Isn't even out now.

That leaves...
Age of Worms - 3.5, Undeady
Rise of the Runelords - Generic and giantsy
Curse of the Crimson Throne - Politicy
Second Darkness - Hive of scum and villainy, and drowy
Council of Thieves - Crime and Helly
The Serpent's Skull - Jungley snakey

So... yeah. Consider the notion tossed out there.

Mightyblue
09-26-2011, 03:39 AM
Well, there's the wednesday night peeps playing our way through Carrion Crown (which you didn't mention, being a Pathfinder path), and we just finished up the final dungeon of the second book last week. I'm certainly not opposed to you joining us, but pence's the GM and we've got five PCs already.

Googleshng
09-26-2011, 02:21 PM
Oh hey, I did leave that off the list. But yeah, people are playing through that one already, with a technically oversized group, and it's some crazy D&D4 conversion too isn't it?

pence
09-26-2011, 02:24 PM
Oh hey, I did leave that off the list. But yeah, people are playing through that one already, with a technically oversized group, and it's some crazy D&D4 conversion too isn't it?

Yeah, I've been converting stuff week by week, which has been an interesting experiment.

Cyrael
09-26-2011, 03:25 PM
I am getting ready to get Carrion Crown going with my local group as soon as we finish up Red Hand of Doom. How you liking it so far? I know you are converting - but just as a general feel for the campaign?

Comb Stranger
09-26-2011, 03:27 PM
I'd be willing to play, though I'm only really available Sundays, Tuesdays and Fridays, and of the available ones, I only have Age of Worms, Rise of the Runelords and Second Darkness unspoiled.

Red Hedgehog
09-26-2011, 06:14 PM
I am getting ready to get Carrion Crown going with my local group as soon as we finish up Red Hand of Doom. How you liking it so far? I know you are converting - but just as a general feel for the campaign?

I really like the mystery-solving aspect of Carrion Crown. I thought the first adventure worked a little better what with exploring a big dungeon (haunted prison) at our leisure while solving mysteries around town. The second adventure didn't quite work as well. I'm not sure if it was the hard time limit or failing to mesh adventuring and courtroom drama as well as it could have been or what. Also, I missed a session so that might have been it, but the motivation to go to the final dungeon seemed a little lacking.

Googleshng
09-26-2011, 07:10 PM
I only have Age of Worms, Rise of the Runelords and Second Darkness unspoiled.

I'm impressed!

Comb Stranger
09-26-2011, 07:18 PM
I'm impressed!

Well, I've only played one of the six blacklisted ones. Of the others, we're halfway through Carrion Crown (on hiatus), I've run a bit of Serpent's Skull and read half of it, and my group is taking about doing a Burning Wheel hack for Council of Thieves (because pence likes to make rpg cocktails). Though, given the vastly different magic systems, that may not go over too well.

Mightyblue
09-26-2011, 09:01 PM
I am getting ready to get Carrion Crown going with my local group as soon as we finish up Red Hand of Doom. How you liking it so far? I know you are converting - but just as a general feel for the campaign?

Yeah, the second book felt sort of weak because there's no real linkage between the city bits and the dungeon hacky parts, especially at the end. You get some liberal hints as to what's related to what, but it feels very much like a pit stop in the wider narrative of the adventure path. Werewolves are next though, apparently.

Comb Stranger
09-26-2011, 10:48 PM
On a related note, I have some tips for anyone planning on running Serpent's Skull. COMMENCE SPOILER DUMP!


The animal lairs? Yeah, they're dumb. Fighting the same damn type of snake over and over again in the hopes of losing that 1% encounter chance at camp is not something that makes any sense no matter how you look at it. It's nice to introduce the jungle beasts as a looming threat, but once per animal is enough. They don't even need to be dangerous; my party yawned and rolled initiative at the mention of a giant viper, but some (harmless) metallic blue beetles I made up on the spot made them abandon the path entirely out of caution. Weirdness and the unknown are what make memorable jungle exploration, not high monster stats.


Prepare some outs for the big battle in the middle of book 1. It is very easy for the players to get in over their heads by pissing off the whole group, and rules as written, they have very little chance to outrun them. The optional chase rules can work, as can having the enemies capture the PCs with a chance for rescue. At any rate, there's a very good chance that the PC's won't win the fight, so you'll want to be prepared for outcomes not covered in the book.


The boss of book 1 is in need of some reworking. She has some fun abilities, but most parties will smash through her minions and chip her to death in a boring slugfest. Consider switching out some spells and/or giving her more interesting minions.


Each book tends to jump ahead from location to location without much in the way of transition. They present a lot of exposition on the region, but you'll need to add scenes to bridge the action. It's especially grievous between books 2 and 3; you spend all of book 2 blazing through the jungle to the first legendary area (with a probably unnecessary amount of random encounters), then book 3 just skips ahead to the next one because it got bored of the jungle.


Similarly, book 2 has the players join their choice of faction, but it gives no example scenes to introduce them, or even note what benefits the various factions will give later in the campaign. Faction stats (and the stats of the key NPCs you SHOULD be meeting at the start of book 2) are slipped into the back of book 3. Unless you just want to hand the players a list of numbers to pick from, you'll need to prepare some scenes to introduce the factions and have them actually try to win the party over.


Book 3 is about where I stopped reading, but there is a loooot of ill will floating around concerning it. The first two books build up the lost city as, you know, lost; something Indiana Jonesy to explore while disarming traps and being chased by Nazis. The reality is... much different, and some people consider it a complete adventure-killer. I like the guts of the adventure and I think there's some potential there, but there is a big disconnect that has to be addressed if you want it to work.

pence
09-27-2011, 04:07 AM
Burning Westcrown wouldn't be the adventure path - just the setting. Burning Wheel would break the railroad so hard, smashed against the Beliefs and Instincts of all the PCs.

Regarding Carrion Crown, the first adventure is a kickass module. Little town, dungeon next door, lots of little events you can throw in there, and fodder to make your own. Then I kind of broke the second one trying to perform reconstructive surgery on it. Number three is going to present an interesting challenge:

The sequence of events in this section places this portion of the adventure on a “railroad.” You should attempt to keep the PCs “on the rails,” but without obviously strong-arming them or manipulating their actions.

I'm playing a game, not putting on a magic act, dudes!

For anyone curious about the end of Trial of the Beast:

As written, after the trial, angry townsfolk are gathering torches and pitchforks to assault Schloss Caromarc. The Beast is also not estranged from the Count, beelines back to the house, and the townsfolk follow him there. No one is actually sure that Caromarc is the one who made the Beast. In fact, you're supposed to fight beside the Beast at the end of the adventure - not all through the house, just the fight against the Aberrant Promethean. In fact, this scene is so important that, even if the trial goes poorly for the Beast, he still escapes his punishment! That might work for someone, but I got out the red ink as soon as I saw that.

From my pov, it had the fun side effect of making it a lot less obvious what to do with the count, if he doesn't have his weepy son with him. But the butterfly effect created some continuity errors in the process. Also I straight-up missed the paragraph about angry townsfolk gearing up to burn Schloss Caromarc.

namelessentity
09-27-2011, 07:45 AM
I really like the mystery-solving aspect of Carrion Crown. I thought the first adventure worked a little better what with exploring a big dungeon (haunted prison) at our leisure while solving mysteries around town. The second adventure didn't quite work as well. I'm not sure if it was the hard time limit or failing to mesh adventuring and courtroom drama as well as it could have been or what. Also, I missed a session so that might have been it, but the motivation to go to the final dungeon seemed a little lacking.

Ditto. The hard timeline of the second book just makes it seem like adventuring is really not an option, but I loved it because of the solving the mystery aspect. I really felt that each session we learned a little bit more about the real goings on of the town.

Traumadore
09-27-2011, 10:22 AM
So I've never, ever purchased or run a pre-made adventure outside of the the AD&D 2nd edition box game circa 1995. Do you guys find that it actually improves the experience for the DM and players to a degree that you find them very valuable? What do you like most about them?

pence
09-27-2011, 10:36 AM
Coming at them as a GM, honestly, I'm not crazy about them. It doesn't save much time, but I'm also increasingly biased toward running games that don't require as much prep as D&D. Even if you're running straight out of the book, you're going to have to spend time making sure you're familiar with the monsters' feats, spells, etc.

Think of it this way, if I didn't have the framework of an adventure path, there's no way I'd motivate myself to run a Big Epic D&D Campaign from 1-20. It doesn't save time, but it's enough to get started.

Destil
09-27-2011, 12:51 PM
I liberally steal from everywhere so modules are good for that. But I haven't run one in nearly a decade aside from one-shots (which they're also good for).

Googleshng
09-27-2011, 01:43 PM
So I take it we've officially abandoned the starting a game angle and are now just using this as a general purpose discussion of Paizo's adventure paths? Eh, still works.

I was crazy crazy skeptical when I first got yanked into playing Shackled City way back when, because my only prior experiences with the whole prepublished adventure deal were astoundingly terrible. AD&D2 era stuff was pretty much the worst of the lot there too. Paizo's stuff generally works pretty well though, for a few reasons:

- They don't actively suck. I mean, yeah, you're a little railroaded inherently in that here's this adventure, if you don't go do it well you're just going to be behind on EXP and loot going forward because there isn't really an alternative, but beyond "here's your goal, here's the map" they're really good at making sure multiple approaches are viable, covering all the bases on PCs going all full frontal assault, or sneaking around, or talking their way in, or doing some crazy unorthodox thing. One of my favorite examples being "If the PCs should try to get around this time limit by doing something crazy like find some plane where time flows at a different rate, good for them. Keep in mind that any planeshifting magic is blocked off within this little area here though." And then of course there's Kingmaker, which doesn't even string along point to point. They went all out PC RPG style and just filled a huge map with points of interest and went all sandboxy.

- The whole 1-20 deal helps get around the problem of making weird assumptions about the PCs motives. It's not "Here's some big dungeon! There's rumors that there's treasure in there and some big lich, you can work that into your campaign somehow right? If not just have him summon them in there I guess." This is the whole campaign, so all the various things hang together and play off each other. Plus they tend to toss in these optional background things PCs can take A- to get really minor bonuses (like, +2 to one particular skill, or starting with a nice piece of equipment), and B- to get some nice interesting personal plot hooks woven in for'em. And again, the laid back open-ended approach means there's contingencies for important NPCs getting bumped off, and things that aren't totally dependent on the PCs succeeding or failing to prevent some big epic thing from happening.

- Particularly when doing the whole maptool, scan a map, cover it in fog of war deal, way less prep time, prevents GM burnout. Which is, again, the real main upside to this stuff. Same with monsters all selected and balanced in advance.

Comb Stranger
09-27-2011, 03:48 PM
Plus, awesome art. It's always fun to see a picture of what you're fighting or who you're talking to.

pence
09-27-2011, 04:06 PM
The art is pretty nice. Ripping maps for maptool is kind of a pain, since they didn't actually start layering them until Jade Regent. You're going to have to deal with scrubbing out the room keys (17b, 17c...), secret doors, and not-quite-consistent pixel resolution.

Jade Regent and beyond include layered map PDFs with every module, which is awesome.

Cyrael
09-28-2011, 10:40 AM
Until now I've never RUN an adventure path, but I have always had fun with pre published adventures in the 3/.5 days.

Return to the Temple of Elemental Evil kept our group busy for about 2 years of playing once a month or so and was a pretty exciting dungeon crawl.

I also really wanted to get into Night Below, but I've never converted it to a new edition.